“Why should we wait ’til tomorrow?
I need you tonight.”
When Atlantic Records began harvesting rock groups to augment their stellar 1950’s and 1960’s soul lineup, the one band to keep a foot in both the world of rock and soul was Boston’s own J. Geils Band. Fronted with panache by a former late night DJ named Peter Wolf, the group soldiered through the 1970’s releasing great albums and doing even more legendary live shows for appreciative audiences the world over. Peter Wolf became the ultimate showman, emulating his soul and blues heroes and thrilling audiences not used to such charisma in a frontman. Tom Petty recently remarked that Wolf was the only frontman he took notes from during their touring stint in the mid 1970’s.
The J. Geils Band’s cult status became mainstream success during a tenure at EMI Records at the dawn of the 1980’s and the Mtv era. Songs like ‘Centerfold’ and ‘Love Stinks’ made them genuine superstars and their future as rock royalty seemed certain to put them in the same category as Atlantic labelmates The Rolling Stones. But when success broke the band apart at the peak of their success in 1983, Peter Wolf launched his critically acclaimed solo career.
Wolf’s first solo release, “Lights Out”, came hot on the heels of his Geils departure on EMI Records in 1984. Working with the hottest R&B songsters of the day, including Michael Jonzun, and some rock legends including Mick Jagger, Elliot Easton and the P Funk All Stars, Wolf crafted a pop/rock/soul extravaganza to compete with his J. Geils bandmates, on the road without him. The first single, ‘Lights Out’, written by Wolf and soul legend Don Covay, hit big and was followed up by this track, the longing pop tune ‘I Need You Tonight’, again written by Wolf and another collaborator, Peter Bliss. The song encapsulated classic soul music themes into a 3 minute synth pop classic.
After his initial solo success, Wolf recorded periodic solo albums to critical acclaim and reunited with his J. Geils bandmates for a 1999 reunion tour. His most recent studio release, 2002’s “Sleepless”, was even named one of Rolling Stone magazines top 500 releases of all time. Another J. Geils Band reunion tour is long overdue, as Peter Wolf needs to show a new generation what true rock and soul shomwanship is all about.
(The very 80’s, Miami Vice-ish video is directed by Miami Vice director Michael Mann, also creator of hits like “Heat” and “The Insider”.)